Personal branding is not about self promotion but collective intelligence

It’s incredible to see how the subject became fashionable in a few months (anyway in France) and how many experts suddenly emerged on the subjec. As  Vincent Berthelot [fr] I was rather taken aback about what it was all about but, at the end, I came to a quick conclusion:

– if everyone is transparent and shows what he/she really is, it can be a good thing.

– in the same way, personal branding must come with an ongoing improvement approach : “how to improve in order to be what I want to show”. By the way, it’s the same for any corporate/product branding logic.

– if we want the system to work, everyone has to respect the rules, what means admit than X or Y is better than me and should receive more attention than me. I don’t think it’s possible, for the only reason that human are human and the human nature is what it is…most of all when a job or a contract are at stake.

– hence the unavoidable drift toward a classical self-marketing approach, driven by the bottom but that “honnest” people will have to follow not be had by less competent but more crafty people.

– and, as a conclusion, as said in this famous slideshow, “If your product sucks, social media won’t fix it”. It also applies to people.

That’s how I sup up my neophytic thoughts on the subject. But, thanks to a long talk with Olivier Zara [fr] a few month ago I understand there’s a huge potential here, provided people can make the difference between gimmick practices that will discredit the concept and the “good practices” that will be collectively beneficial. I’m not only talking about the general public web but also about things that may take place within organizations.

In fact, it’s, one more time, a matter of switching from a push logic to a pull one.

We’re talking about engaging the best ressources, talents, what means we can identify them. That’s true within businesses but also outside. In the first case it’s about staffing a project, a problem solving, in the second it’s about hiring people. To do that, businesses need a clear view of what people really are and what they can bring.  It implies, a declarative approach (I am…), a demonstrative one (I prove it) and a social filter (other people attest).

To go further and understand the mecanism, we need to go back the final purpose (identify people). Maybe it’s a little about “pushing” one’s profile but it’s mainly about making objective informations available to whom needs it. Maybe the difference may look very slight at first sight, but it really matters when it’s time to turn the concept into actions : it’s not about “giving”, “pushing”, “sending” to others but letting people find and take.

If people switch back to bad habits (that are the proper of mankind), everyone will adopt a “push” logic (I say what I want people to think I am instead of letting them discover who I am) and the good side of personal branding will disappear .

Maybe it will work better within businesses when there is more regulation and where, as experience shows us, employees are reluctant to public self promotion and self-marketing on internal social networks and prefer to show their skills by bringing a real added value in discussions.

So I now understand why Olivier Zara, a recognized collective intelligence expert, came to personal branding, the second being, in my opinion, the unavoidable preliminary step before engaging people in a collective intelligence process.

Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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